When you hear the term “work conference” what do you think?
“Ugh, one big, cheesy meet-and-greet...”
“How much could I possibly learn?”
And the big one: “How much is it going to cost?”
While conferences sometimes get a bad rap, there are a number of benefits that outweigh the potential drawbacks. This spring, we sent two of our team members, Simone, a Graphic Designer and Paige, a Social & Digital Media Strategist, to HOW Design Live in Boston to learn and grow with leaders in the creative industry (and to catch a break from their fast-paced work schedules). They came back rejuvenated with new ideas we can use every day to communicate better with each other and serve our clients better. Regardless of your industry, here are some advantages to attending a conference for both your company and your team member:
How it benefits your company:
- Keep up with industry trends - Even if you’re a well-established company with years of experience, there is always something new and exciting to learn in your industry. Whether a brand new, game-changing piece of technology is introduced or a simple, fresh update to an outdated process, attending a conference can equip your team with the tools to evolve with the times.
- Empower your team members - “Remember when your parents finally gave you the keys to their car? You had that feeling of freedom,” Dave Delaney uses as an example for this point. What better way is there to express you trust your team members than by sending them on an unsupervised, all-expenses-paid trip as a representative of your company?
- Brand exposure - When your team members attend an industry event, they automatically become ambassadors for your company. With the added pride in their company after being entrusted by their superiors, they’ll be even more inclined to talk about what they do and hand out business cards to make new connections and open the door for future opportunities.
How it benefits your team members:
- Change of pace - It’s great when your team has a set schedule that they’ve developed and abide by regularly in order to be productive. However, sitting at the same desk, drinking out of the same coffee mug and doing the same thing every single day can start to feel monotonous. The chance to explore new scenery is refreshing and invigorating, and it will help your team members return to work ready to take on the world.
- Education - The structure of well-known speakers and smaller breakout sessions combine to present the perfect platform for absorbing information. Learning new strategies to solve existing problems or discovering brand new tools is priceless. And it’s not all idle listening; Q&A sessions give your team members an opportunity to address your company’s concerns specifically.
- Networking - There’s nothing better than connecting with like-minded people. It’s a very reassuring feeling to know that you’re not the only one who struggles in your industry! Even if you don’t plan to attend every mixer, meeting and talking out your shared pain points in sessions or over coffee can be extremely helpful.
One thing we didn’t mention is the simple aspect of fun! Exploring a new place, getting out of your comfort zone and learning about the latest trends in your industry is a unique combination only a conference can provide.
What about post-conference?
There's no better feeling than coming home on a conference high. However, there's no worse feeling than coming home to a full inbox with a number of to-dos. To help balance out team members' return and ease back into the everyday grind, first, give them the opportunity to put out any fires and to catch up on any priority items. Then, allow dedicated time to reflect on all the information absorbed at the conference and to outline how it can be implemented at your own company. Channeling all of that inspiration into action is the definition of a positive conference experience.